By the OGJ Online Staff
HOUSTON, Mar. 30�US drilling activity increased by 30 rigs this week with a total of 1,193 rotary rigs working across the country and in coastal waters, Baker Hughes Inc. officials said Friday.
The tally was the highest US rig count since Nov. 23, 1990.
The rotary rig count for the week ended Friday was much higher than the 775 rigs operating at this time a year ago. The number of US rigs drilling for oil decreased by 12 to 244. Natural gas is providing the drilling momentum, with 946 drilling gas prospects this week, up 42 from a week ago. Three rigs were unclassified, the same number as last week.
Texas led the increase with 478 rotary rigs working this week, 13 more than previously. Louisiana�s rig count was up by 10 to 230. Wyoming and New Mexico each saw a gain of two rigs, with Wyoming�s rig count at 53 and New Mexico�s rig count at 73.
California�s rig count climbed by four rigs to a total of 34 this week while Alaska�s rig count held steady at 14. Oklahoma�s rig count declined by one, dropping slightly to a total of 138.
With the seasonal thaw, Canada�s rig count dropped by 43 to 326 rotary rigs working this week. That is 82 more rigs than was reported for the same time last year.
The ODS-Petrodata Group Friday reported a net increase of one mobile offshore rig under contract worldwide. With 572 rigs under contract out of a total fleet of 649, the offshore rig utilization was 88.1%, said Tom Marsh, associate publisher of that weekly study. That is the highest level since Oct. 2, 1998, when utilization was at 88.7%.
Rig utilization in the US Gulf of Mexico rose by a net one-rig increase this week. Of the 210 mobile offshore drilling rigs available in the region, 186 had contracts, for a US gulf offshore rig utilization of 88.6%.
European offshore rig utilization remained unchanged for the fourth consecutive week at 92.1%. Of the region�s 101 mobile offshore rigs, 93 are under contract.
ODS-Petrodata also reported 248 platform rigs contracted out of 310 available worldwide for 80% utilization, which was the same as last week.